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The Stats Book: Tigers struggle with RISP, at top of lineup

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Phil Coke has been wonderful as a starting pitcher so far. Brad Penny has not.
Phil Coke has been wonderful as a starting pitcher so far. Brad Penny has not.

We're five series into the season. We're not quite far enough to put too much weight onto the statistics. But we are far enough to start to explore some early season trends a bit. So I present the first Stats Book of 2011:

*All stats are through Saturday's games and compiled by Baseball-Reference.com

RISP problems

  • We know last year the Tigers managed to get players on base fine, but struggled to drive them home. That wasn't a new trend. Unfortunately it's not a trend that appears to be ending yet, either. With 148 plate appearances the Tigers are batting .224 with .328 slugging and .329 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position this season. With a runner on third and less than 2 outs? With 37 plate appearances, the Tigers are batting .200 with .280 slugging and .243 OBP. Holy wah!
  • Last season, Detroit had a .246 average (.727 on-base-plus-slugging) with RISP, and a .343 average with .919 OPS with a runner on third and less than two outs.
  • So even a bad year was a lot better than the Tigers have started this season. I'd expect this trend to turn around.

Top of the order

  • The top two spots in the batting order have not produced. They have a combined .185 average, .276 on-base percentage and .244 slugging average. They have a combined 12 runs, 15 walks and 31 strikeouts.
  • Austin Jackson has a .511 OPS in 60 PA leading off. Will Rhymes has a .567 OPS in 38 PA batting second. Slightly better: Ramon Santiago has a .636 OPS batting second in 11 PA.

Plate discipline

  • The Tigers have worked 58 walks (10.1%), but struck out 102 times (17.8%) in 575 plate appearances.
  • Getting back to Jackson, he has struck out 27.8% of the time and walked 9.8% of the time.
  • Miguel Cabrera leads in walks with 12. Brennan Boesch and Jhonny Peralta both have seven. Peralta has a .358 OBP and Boesch .389.

Balls and strikes

  • The Tigers have made it to a 3-ball count 121 times. (So that's about 21% of the plate appearances.) They had 17 hits and 58 walks to show for it.
  • They are batting .240 after an 0-1 count and just .223 after a 1-0 count. (Weird, but it should settle out in the long run).
  • But overall: The Tigers have an OPS of .957 when the batter is ahead and .458 when the pitcher is ahead. So that's more expected.

Pitchers and catchers

  • Tigers starting pitchers have a 4.70 ERA; relievers 5.08. Starters have a 2.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio, relievers 1.83
  • Phil Coke has a starter best 1.31 ERA. Justin Verlander clocks in at a 3.41 ERA; Brad Penny a team-worst 8.44.
  • Jose Valverde and Al Alburquerque both have unblemished 0.00 ERAs.
  • Victor Martinez has thrown out 1 of 4 baserunners for 25%; Alex Avila 2 of 13 for 15%. The league-average rate is 25%. Avila has allowed nine wild pitches, Martinez, three. Twelve wild pitches is three more than any other team in baseball has allowed and seven more than average.